News coverage has reached an all-time high. Not only from newspapers, cable news channels, blogs, but with the inclusion of Twitter and people sharing their ideological news stories on Facebook. It reaches a point when you have to wonder if all this “Breaking News” or “This Just In” is truly worth it. Many would consider the news getting worse than it has been in any time in history. That would be true but only because our immersion in notifications and social media has increased. Into year two of the Trump administration, people seem to be on the road to a collective burnout. I pose to you a question: what is the virtue of 24-hour news programming?
How It Started
In the eighties, when CNN began, it was a bold and new concept. At the time, many people only had access to the news via their local newspaper and local news programming. You always knew when that slot of hours was coming to an end when the National Evening News with “whoever” appeared. It normally met it was dinner time. That was the thirty-minute programming that focused on national and world news. Unlike the fluff of local news that was reporting what you are having to dinner could kill you.
The mid-nineties saw a flurry of copycats that wanted in on the 24-hour media cycle. Fox News, MSNBC, and Headline News gave us the same thing that CNN gave us. Well, with more of a political slant than they are nowadays. Fox News began to rise to prominence during the second term of President Clinton and was embroiled in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The conservative programming began to reflect that. As did MSNBC, when they began to push the more liberal agenda. CNN tried as hard as it could to stay above the fray, but ratings is equal to money. They had to change with the times.
Are We Informed?
Does this round-the-clock news cycle actually keep us informed? Not really. Even the last bastion of professional journalism lost its way when the internet arrived. Even among the 24/7 cable news, print media became a thing of the past. Their news was more than 24 hours old. Why read old news when you can see it up-to-the-minute on cable or on the internet? Although, even the all-day-every-day news, has to struggle keeping those minutes entertaining. They would focus on one story and give commentary, have laughable experts yell at one another, and repeat the same breaking news for the next six hours. Reality check: it’s no longer breaking if we heard it at breakfast.
In a Gallup poll, from June of 2017, showed that only 27 percent of Americans had a Great Deal/Quite A Lot of Confidence in newspapers. Surprisingly, that is higher than the 24% people had in television news. Still cable news and newspapers had a higher degree of confidence than the 16% people had in news from the internet. 24% may seem rather low, and it is. However, since 1993, less than half polled claimed to have confidence in the television news. 46% believed they had confidence in the television news media in 1993. In the last twenty-four years, half of those still believe in the television media.
Again, I ask you: What is the virtue of a 24-hour news media?
The answer is: there isn’t any. In the era of Trump, news organizations know that there is big viewership and internet activity when dealing with Trump. Anti-Trump supporters will run to their respective news sites to find something to focus their ire on. Pro-Trump supporters will run to their respective news sites to find something that the media is doing to undermine his presidency. Like politicians, news organizations are running to their base. Focus on what they want, and they will deliver ratings. You can see it in ratings. Conservatives flock to Sean Hannity, who gets publicity from other news networks, which is how Trump won. Liberals rush to Rachel Maddow for her anti-Trump rants.
Once these opinion shows air, they cease to be news and become entertainment. They need to fight for ratings. Everyone from O’Reilly, Hannity, Andersen Cooper, and Lawrence. Their air time is not about informing the public. They are about keeping you on the edge of sanity to pump up their ratings and jacking up their ad buys. News is about reporting the news and moving on around the world. News is not picking one piece of information then bringing on people to yell and scream about how its being viewed. Cable news is a shadow of what it started out to be. During the Clinton presidency, it turned from journalism to an episode of the Jerry Springer Show. It will only get worse before it gets better.
As much of a political junkie as I am, I am even growing tired of the double standard I see on television. One side presented as a moral authority, until they are in power then it’s not that bad. Or by using the excuse that “your guy” did the same thing, so it is okay. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s not algebra – two negatives don’t make a positive. The problem is that so many people love to live in hate and misery that they wouldn’t do what I propose.
Stop watching this stuff
That is it. It is that simple. Many people want to hate the other side. What does that get us? Nowhere. So many people believe the Russian influenced our elections, but the true crime is no one sought out the truth. People believe what is printed, instead of finding out if it was actually true. This was the true result of this meddling. Americans don’t like to think for themselves because they are so busy. Doing what? Making ill-informed comments on Facebook without an ounce of research. Hardline liberals and conservatives are the most ignorant. They believe anything their party tells them without an ounce of independent thought. Those are the majority responsible for all of this.
Trump is the ultimate internet troll. Everyone knows he likes to divert attention. Yet, the media follows him wherever he goes. Why? Because the ratings are there. Everything we do has a consequence. If that is true, if people stopped following news organizations for a bit of piece and quiet, imagine how things would change. If everyone put an ounce of effort into their daily lives that they put into Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, or social media, imagine how much better it would be. Tell the news to stop the opinion pieces, work on actually news, then I’ll tune back in.
Someone said that we are here to make life better for future generations. If that is true, how will our behavior be interpreted to future generations? No society ever evolved once education, freedom of individual thought, or the ability of individualism has been abandoned. We are doing this right now. If someone doesn’t see your view, they are called a name. Ignorance is the absence of knowledge. Discovering why someone sees another viewpoint is called debate. Our elected officials were never supposed to mirror our society, they were supposed to be better. 24-hour cable news is a failed social experiment. It is high time we pulled the plug.